Where to begin with your analytics

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We hear this so many times, “I know I need analytics and better reporting but I don’t know where to start”.  People feel overwhelmed with the task of either implementing analytics or improving what they have.  This being the beginning of a New Year, let’s tackle this question of “where to start”.

Understand you are definitely not alone.  As I said, we hear it often.  Others are also rustling with this but ignoring analytics and reporting is not really an option anymore.  Your competitors are leveraging their data to gain insight and knowledge.

The first step is to understand what is causing this feeling of being overwhelmed.  By understanding the root cause of our feeling of being overcome you can begin to create a plan to deal with it.  Is it the lack of knowledge about your options around analytics and business intelligence? Is it the volume or diversity of the data you are being asked to deal with? Maybe it is the sheer size of the solution, problem or project?

When you develop your plan we advise you break it down into small projects that last no more than 3 months.  You may end up with a series of projects but this provides a number of benefits.  Firstly, projects of 3 months or less tend to be less complex than trying to accomplish longer projects because we have taken the complexity and broken it into manageable pieces.  Secondly, by tackling smaller projects, we can evaluate the changing needs of the organization over time and if need be, reprioritize the projects to address any changing needs.  Andlastly, completing a 3 month project allows for celebration on its win.  We can begin to build momentum and morale in the team rather than feeling like we are caught on a treadmill that we can’t get off of.

Having decided to do smaller projects, what should the first project be?  The bottom line is that it should be the one that will deliver the most value.  It sounds straight forward but deciding this can be daunting as well.  Many organizations will have defined methods like NPV, IIR or Payback Period.  Don’t be overwhelmed by this if you don’t currently have a method.  If you can’t determine easily which project will deliver the most value, keep it simple.  Pick something that may be a little easier to accomplish (lower risk) and will allow for some momentum to begin with a quick completion.  Your first project will be as much about learning as it is about providing the organization with the solution.

The final step is to celebrate the win after completing your first project.  Throw your team a party or lunch, whatever works for your team.  Celebrating the project is also about showing it off.  Hold an open house or presentation to allow others in the organization to view what you have done.  It will build morale in the team and organization.  In addition, it will result in others beginning to think about what they truly need for analytics and reporting.

In the end, just move forward by getting started.  Staying put and doing nothing really means falling behind as others move beyond you.